India hockey Olympian SV Sunil retires

SV Sunil has represented India at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics and donned the international jersey with distinction for 14 years.

By Utathya Nag
Picture by Getty Images

Indian hockey player SV Sunil, a two-time Olympian and 2014 Asian Games gold medallist, announced his retirement from international hockey on Friday. He, however, kept the door open to play in the shorter variant of the game.

SV Sunil’s announcement comes just a day after his former team-mates Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra – both of whom were part of India’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics bronze medal-winning team – hung up their boots.

“With the 2024 Paris Olympics three years away, I think, as a senior player it is important that I make way for youngsters and help in building a winning team for the future,” SV Sunil wrote in his message on Twitter.

SV Sunil also hinted that though he was moving away from the more traditional 11 a side game, he will be available for the shorter variant, namely the Hockey 5s.

The 32-year-old SV Sunil played for India for 14 years. The forward scored 72 goals in 264 appearances for the team.

Born in Somwarpet in Coorg, Karnataka, SV Sunil made his international debut at the Asia Cup in 2007, which India famously won after beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the final.

SV Sunil represented India at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games but was left out of India’s historic bronze medal-winning campaign at Tokyo Olympics.

Through the last decade, SV Sunil has been a mainstay of the Indian forward line and was part of the Indian team which won gold in the 2011 Asian Champions Trophy and silver in the same event in 2012. 

An Arjuna Awardee, SV Sunil won a gold and a bronze medal from the 2014 Incheon and 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, respectively. He was also part of the gold medal-winning team in the Asia Cup 2017. He played an instrumental role in India's historic silver medal wins at the 2016 and 2018 FIH Champions Trophy. 

SV Sunil also played in the 2015 and 2017 FIH World League Final where the Indian hockey team won bronze medals. His illustrious trophy cabinet also boasts a silver medal from the Commonwealth Games 2014.